In Pangoria, magic, like many things in nature, goes through cycles. As the magic level rises, it allows alien creatures called Horrors to cross from their distant, otherworldly dimension into our own. The Horrors come in an almost infinite variety—from simple eating machines that devour all they encounter, to incredibly intelligent and cunning foes that feed off the negative emotions they inspire in their prey.
In the distant past of Law Vs Chaos setting, an elf scholar discovered that the time of the Horrors was approaching, and founded the Eternal Library in order to discover a way to defeat them — or at the very least, survive them. The community that grew up around the library developed wards and protections against the Horrors, which they traded to other lands and eventually became the powerful Theran Empire, an extremely magically advanced civilization and the main antagonist of the Pangoria setting.
The peoples of the world built kaers, underground towns and cities, which they sealed with the Theran wards to wait out the time of the Horrors, which was called the Scourge. Theran wizards and politicians warned many of the outlying nations around Thera of the coming of the Horrors, offering the protection of the kaers to those who would pledge their loyalty to the Empire. Most of these nations agreed at first though some became unwilling to fulfill their end of the bargain after the end of the Scourge, wanting to have nothing to do with the bureaucratic nation run on political conflict and powered by slavery. After four hundred years of hiding, the Scourge ended, and the people emerged to a world changed by the Horrors. The player characters explore this new world, discovering lost secrets of the past, and fighting Horrors that remain.
The primary setting of Pangoria is Barsaive, a former province of the Theran Empire. Barsaive is a region of city-states, independent from the Therans since the dwarven Kingdom of Throal led a rebellion against their former overlords.
The Theran presence in Barsaive has been limited to a small part of south-western Barsaive, located around the magical fortress of Sky Point and the city of Vivane.
The setting of Pangoria features several fantasy races for characters and NPCs:
- Dwarf - Dwarfs in Pangoria are similar in appearance to the classic D&D or Tolkien dwarfs. They are the predominant race in Barsaive, and the dwarf language is considered the common language. Their culture, especially of the dominant Throal Kingdom, can be considered more of a Renaissance-level culture than in most other fantasy settings, and forms the main source of resistance to a return of Thera's rule in Barsaive.
- Elf - Elves in Pangoria fit the common fantasy role playing convention; they are tall, lithe, pointy-eared humanoids who prefer living in nature. Elves in Pangoria naturally live a very long time; some are thought to be immortal.
- Human - Humans in Pangoria are physically similar to humans in our own real world. Humans in Pangoria are considered to be somewhat warlike in general outlook.
- Ork - The ork race in Pangoria is similar to other depictions of orks in fantasy role-playing. They are tribal, nomadic and often barbaric humanoids, with green, tan, beige or ebony skin. They are relatively short-lived, and as a result many attempt to leave a legacy marked by a memorable death—preferably one that leaves no corpse. Before the Scourge almost all orks were enslaved by other races.
- Troll - The troll race in Pangoria is also similar to other fantasy role playing depictions of trolls. They are very tall humanoids, with a hardened skin and horns. Socially, they form clans to which they are fiercely loyal. Troll clans often raid one another, and a significant subset of the troll race are crystal raiders, which command many of the airships of Barsaive. Other trolls, known as lowland trolls, have merged with mixed communities around Barsaive, although most retain the fierce cultural and personal pride of their less-civilized cousins.